Rigidity of Religion

To say I am one thing binds me to others’ ideas of that thing. As we each hold a unique perspective of the world, it would seem impossible to conform to every person’s perspective of any given label. Dictionaries are used to best define how a society perceives a given word. But even dictionaries and definitions within them change over time. I recently heard a women express that the word “Atheist” meant to her someone who was “evil” and only interested in satisfying his or her own carnal desires. When recently asked to define “atheist”, I focused more on an atheist’s tendencies to desire physical evidence. But Merrium-Webster defines “atheist” as follows: “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods : one who subscribes to or advocates atheism”. These labels may be beneficial when it comes to predicting and understanding another’s actions. But to live without these labels enables me to be free to explore my perspective of myself, the world around me, and the world beyond. We tend adopt these labels as parts of our identities and then become invested in these identities. The two-party system in the United States inspires many to vote along party lines without considering whether the candidates for whom they are voting share their principles. Further, when these candidates take office, we defend the politician for whom we voted even as their actions seem unjustified to us. When it comes to something like faith in a higher power, these labels to which we adhere often require even stronger faith. When this faith is challenged, we may be more likely to stand strong in our beliefs, refusing to ever sway even when evidence to the contrary is presented. We often take a perspective similar to the perspective portrayed in the old Christian hymn: “Like a tree that’s planted by the water, I shall not be moved”. But Psalms 1:3 of the Christian bible, seemingly the inspiration for this imagery, would seem to more directly apply to falling to ideas of wrongdoing rather than exploration of faith. And so we argue, we fight, and we kill over our perspectives of these things we cannot conclusively define.  We live in a very physical world. We interact with things outside of us in physical ways. To cling to our limited understanding of anything beyond this world as though it were profound truth would seem futile at best and damaging at worst. When we let go of the notion that we can, with absolute certainty, know anything about the nature of things beyond our world, we may see these things with more clarity than our previous perspective made possible. When it comes to the physical world, things like the beams depicted in the drawing below do not exist.

When we try to apply physical characteristics to these things, we end up arguing over the reality of these things:

When we let go of these physical constructs, we can see we are all simultaneously correct and incorrect. So I may be beams laying on the ground. You may see me as 3 and you may see me as 4. And you may be right on both accounts. But when I recognize I may be 3 and I may be 4, my mind is open and receptive to any number of possibilities.

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